Emre Can lifts uninspiring Liverpool

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The German midfielder's winner against Burnley helped to quieten his critics and keep his club on track for a top-four finish

Emre Can has struggled to find a regular spot in Liverpool's starting XI and negotiations over his contract have been under the spotlight.

But the German put those troubles behind him to score a screamer as the Reds came from behind to beat Burnley 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

Coach Jurgen Klopp had insisted that his team did not have a ‘mentality issue’ against smaller teams, even though Liverpool have suffered five defeats against teams in the bottom half of the Premier League table this season.

And, for long periods, it looked like Burnley would add to the agony. Liverpool fell behind to a seventh-minute goal from Ashley Barnes.

It was Burnley’s first League goal at Anfield since 1974 and the visiting team dominated proceedings against a lacklustre Liverpool.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored just before half-time to draw Liverpool level, but it was Can who provided the finishing touch. In the 61st minute, he picked up the ball from Divock Origi and drilled home hard and low from 25 yards. The goal, which came at the Kop end, not only helped Liverpool to three vital league points but also helped to quieten recent criticism of Can.

“I know it was a very tough period, I was lacking confidence in the last few weeks and was not at my best,” the 23-year-old told Liverpool’s official website. “But I had the feeling I would come back, I had the feeling that I was getting strong again.”

Can’s performance against Burnley had come off a back of another strong showing against Arsenal the previous week, when the Reds had emerged 3-1 winners.

Playing in a defensive midfield role against Burnley, Can was tenacious, making five clearances and winning 56.3 per cent of his duels.

The win on Sunday helped Liverpool remain in contention for Champions League qualification. They are now placed fourth, five points ahead of Arsenal, who have two matches in hand.

“'It is the first ugly game we won,” said Klopp of Liverpool’s inconsistent performance against Burnley.

Can lent it a touch of beauty.

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